One Man Shined Amidst Defensive Problems: Things We Learned From Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool







Sunderland rallied from the New Year's Eve disaster to claim a brave point against Liverpool. Here's what we learned.

Mannone on top
Questions had been raised about Vito Mannone following his shaky performance against Burnley, but he answered all of his critics in fine style today. He was in command of his penalty box superbly - just watch him charging out to collect anything that was thrown in there - and contributed to our cause with a fantastic 13 saves, some of which he didn't know a lot about. We can forgive him one blip, as he's proven that we're in safe hands going forward.

We kept to our plan
The opening 20 minutes, before Sturridge's opener, saw Sunderland set out to make amends for Saturday. We pressed Liverpool high up the park, with Rodwell and Ndong in particular chasing every ball. When we went 1-0 down, it would have been so easy to capitulate, as we had done so many times in the past. Instead, we stayed patient, we kept doing what we've been doing and it paid off. Even scoring two penalties requires you to be in the right position to win them.

Defensive trouble cost us again
Two Liverpool goals came from very similar positions, and it's something we've seen before. For the first, Sturridge had a free header as four defenders stood stock still and watched him peel away. The second was a very similar situation, Mane peeled away and scored from close range with no-one tracking him. Liverpool were allowed to drive balls through our box at will, and Sturridge and Lallana caused us particular trouble. The back four deserve credit for their determination, but that we held on wasn't entirely down to their ability.

Fortress Wearside? 
In amongst the negative stats that are coming out about us this season - and for good reason - our impressive home form recently seems to have been overlooked. We've taken 13 points from a possible 18 in the last six home games, and if we can replicate this into the New Year, we'll give ourselves more than a chance of staying up.

Squad beginning to strain
As tenaciously as we fought today, we can't ignore the fact that we only named two senior outfield players on the bench. Moyes can't be blamed for our ongoing injury crisis, of course, but Javi Manquillo on the right side of midfield is not a sight to inspire the hearts of men. Had Papy Djilobodji been forced off late on, it's hard to see what we would have done. Moyes needs to do something, anything, this month to shore it up.
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